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Advancing sustainable agriculture: a crucial assessment of sensible and eco-friendly nanomaterial functions | Journal of Nanobiotechnology

Nanoscience is a trending know-how in plant science that makes use of numerous metallic NPs as agrochemical carriers or fertilizers have been well known for the previous decade [26]. These NPs present motion in seedling improvement, plant progress, germination, root progress [27], elevated carbohydrate metabolism [28], ROS [29] transport of vitamins [30] throughout pressured and non-stressed situations. For the appliance of NPs to vegetation, completely different strategies of NPs remedy could be utilized, together with seed priming, foliar spray, and combination with soil, hydroponic tradition for sustainable agriculture (Fig. 4). Nonetheless, one ought to cautiously select remedy choices for NPs utility, as completely different remedy strategies want completely different NPs concentrations, and using larger concentrations of NPs may cause unfavorable results on vegetation. Additionally it is apparent that the flawed methodology of utility can exhibit toxicity to vegetation, and subsequently, securitizing the strategy relying upon vegetation, nanoparticles, and stress situations are essential for sustainable agriculture (Desk 1). Determine 5 displaying the attainable phytoxicity response upon nanoparticle utility in vegetation. Subsequently, a number of facets must be thought-about earlier than nanoparticle utility to vegetation (Fig. 3). Amongst numerous strategies of utility, seed priming know-how is essentially the most popularly used methodology to induce the penetration of NPs by means of seeds by way of passive diffusion with water and this methodology has proven optimistic results. Throughout foliar utility, stomatal permeation, epidermal absorption and internalization are the main methods to make foliage to soak up these nanoparticles. This has many benefits that embody serving to to combat plant ailments and pathogens, offering important micronutrients by means of leaves which are not often current in nutrition-deficient soil [31,32,33,34]. Not like seed priming and foliar utility, a soil combination of NPs, hydroponic tradition or in vitro utility paves the best way for the NPs to straight meet the ecosystem; and should trigger unfavorable impacts to soil ecosystem. Subsequently, their use have to be fastidiously thought-about. Owing to benefits and downsides of strategies, seed business is looking for appropriate priming agent and strategies of utility that might match properly for sustained agriculture and stop detrimental results on the ecosystem. Thus, on this part, we focus on about extensively used metallic NPs reminiscent of AgNPs, AuNPs, ZnONPs and CuNPs with respect to remedy choices and their impact on physiological and biochemical responses of vegetation. As well as, we additionally elaborate the poisonous or unhazardous results of NPs primarily based on the strategy of utility, the focus of NPs, and plant species.

Desk 1 Mode of nanoparticle utility influences phytotoxicity and their physiological perform
Fig. 4
figure 4

Totally different strategies of NPs utility and their physiological response in vegetation throughout stress and regular situations. Based mostly on the cited references, this determine was created utilizing Biorender software program

Fig. 5
figure 5

Diagram illustrating phytotoxicity of NPs by means of extreme ROS era, damaging nuclear materials, cell membranes, and organelles, in the end leading to cell dying. This determine has been reprinted with permission from [35] Copyright, 2019


AgNPs are a commercialized nanomaterial used within the medical discipline as antimicrobial brokers and private care merchandise. As a consequence of their eco-friendly properties, just lately, ample curiosity has been developed amongst plant biologists to make use of AgNPs as an environment friendly nanomaterial within the agricultural sector to enhance seed germination, plant progress and improvement beneath environmental stress situations. Majorly, AgNPs are utilized to vegetation by seed priming know-how, foliar utility or by means of soil combination strategies. Additionally, the development in plant efficiency had been extremely modulated by the kind of utility used. Subsequently, on this part, we are going to perceive the main variations in plant progress and efficiency throughout regular and stress situations when completely different strategies of AgNPs remedies are tailored. A biocompatible AgNPs had been synthesized utilizing kaffir lime leaves extract to judge their capability to enhance rice seed germination and starch metabolism after seed priming utility utilizing 5 and 10 mg/L AgNPs beneath regular situations [28]. AgNPs penetrated the seed coat and improved the water consumption, elevated ROS and H2O2, and improved seed germination in addition to starch metabolism in comparison with silver nitrate (AgNO3) remedy. These observations aided the speculation of nanopriming of seeds with AgNPs involving the loosening the cell wall of seed coat and endosperms at low concentrations [28]. Furthermore, the minimal nanoparticle focus utilized in seed priming not solely reduces manufacturing prices but additionally mitigates the widespread dispersion of nanoparticles within the setting. Because of this, seed priming emerges as an eco-friendly strategy.

The applying of seed priming additionally minimizes the dispersal of the bigger variety of NPs into ecosystems as NPs remedy utilized to seeds didn’t attain soil and subsequently, could be urged as a promising approach for its business use. Nonetheless, one ought to be cautious when utilizing seed priming of AgNPs to enhance seed germination and progress of rice vegetation as a result of their measurement and concentration-dependent responses. Rice seeds soaked with completely different sizes (20, 30–60, 70–120 nm) and concentrations of AgNPs (100 and 1000 mg/L) decreased the germination and progress of rice seedlings. Subsequently, it’s essential to think about optimum sizes and concentrations of AgNPs to forestall their phytotoxic results in rice seedlings. Throughout seed priming of 60 mg/L AgNPs improved agro-morphological parameters, biochemical parameters, and enzymatic actions in sunflower vegetation. Whereas by means of mixed strategies i.e., seed priming and foliar utility, improved plant yield, seed high quality and secondary metabolite contents of the sunflower vegetation, indicating that every methodology of utility could be recruited to enhance distinctive traits of sunflower vegetation. However, 150 mg/L AgNPs by means of soil utility elevated the toxicity in sunflower vegetation by the buildup of AgNPs in root > leaf > stem, which was mirrored from the rise of antioxidants, lipid peroxidation, and lowered contents of chlorophyll, carotenoids, complete carbohydrate, and complete soluble proteins [36]. Comparable phytotoxic results had been reported on the vegetative progress stage in comparison with that of germination in each cucumber and wheat vegetation that had been uncovered to 200 mg/L of AgNPs by means of in vitro utility [37]. In one other research, optimistic impact of urea with low concentrations of AgNPs (10 and 15 mg/L) by means of the appliance of seed priming and foliar utility has been confirmed when it comes to lowered diseased situation in seeds, larger germination price, elevated chlorophyll contents, elevated stomatal conductance, and better seedling lots in oilseed rape and cucumber beneath thermal stress [38]. In eggplant, foliar spray of AgNPs beneath drought situations improved progress parameters, photosynthetic pigments, proline, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and antioxidant actions [39], suggesting using AgNPs can change dangerous pesticides and extremely concentrated mineral fertilizers. The pre-treatment of biosynthesized AgNPs with A. brassicicola confirmed vital discount in lesions in comparison with A. brassicicola alone handled vegetation (Fig. 6). These outcomes recommend that the suitable choice of AgNPs utility can positively regulate the plant progress and efficiency beneath stress and non-stressed situations.

Fig. 6
figure 6

{Photograph} displaying impact of silver nanoparticles in lowering illness severity after (A) 48 h (day 2) put up an infection (B) Day 5 put up an infection (C) discount in necrosis of leaves (D) discount in variety of lesions shaped per leaf (E) Evaluation of illness parameters when it comes to (a) variety of lesions (b) variety of spores (c) leaf space lined with lesion (d) chlorophyll content material (e) contemporary and dry weight in silver nanoparticles pre-treated vegetation as in comparison with different remedies. Cont-Management, SNP-Biogenic silver nanoparticles lone, AB-A. brassicicola contaminated vegetation, AB+SNP-A. brassicicola contaminated, handled with SNP, FW-fresh weight, DW-Dry weight. Values are the means ± SD of three replicates. Means sharing completely different alphabets “a”, “b” differ considerably from one another at p ≤ 0.05. This determine has been reprinted with permission from [40] Copyright, 2020


AuNPs had been extensively utilized in numerous fields, together with drugs, biology, chemistry, physics, electronics, cosmetics, and so forth. Nonetheless, there’s solely a minimal variety of research reported in vegetation regarding plant progress, improvement and phytotoxicity. Typically, the vegetation uncovered to AuNPs exhibited each optimistic and unfavorable results, that are majorly depending on focus, particle measurement, form, and species [41]. The tactic of NP utility to vegetation can be essential, i.e., whether or not the uptake is thru leaves, roots, or seeds [42]. In vitro research in Arabidopsis seedlings indicated that direct remedy of the smallest AuNPs of 10 nm on the lowest focus induced root hairs however decreased the quantity and size of lateral roots with larger particle concentrations of AuNPs [43]. In glory lilly, 25 nm sized AuNPs at 500–1000 µM concentrations handled to soil for 40 days elevated the seed germination and vegetative progress [44]. Equally, in maize, 11 nm AuNPs handled at a focus of 5–11 mg/L to soil for 10 days elevated seed germination price. One other research on AuNPs synthesized utilizing ecofriendly rhizome extract of galanga plant when utilized by means of seed priming methodology, enhanced germination of naturally aged seeds of maize vegetation and improved total progress, with out exhibiting toxicity at 5 to fifteen ppm focus [38]. A foliar spray utility of 10, 25, 50 and 100 mg/L AuNPs had been utilized to Brassica juncea, confirmed that 10 ppm AuNPs elevated a variety of leaves per plant and seed yield. Nonetheless, complete sugar content material elevated when 25 ppm AuNPs had been utilized, indicating that the decrease focus of AuNPs had been ample to reinforce physiological and biochemical parameters of Brassica sp.[45]. AuNPs are able to inducing stress-related mechanisms to offer resistance to emphasize situations in vegetation. For instance, a foliar utility of biosynthesized AuNPs lowered salt stress by sustaining right ratio of reactive oxygen species to reactive nitrogen species (ROS/RNS ratio) and enhancing protection mechanism in wheat seedlings. Thus, such AuNPs can be utilized in its place for chemical fertilizers to keep up nutritive standing, stop post-agricultural losses, and mitigate abiotic stresses [46]. In wheat, utilizing seed priming methodology, 20 µg/mL AuNPs acted as a signaling molecule beneath chilly stress and activated a protection mechanism by enhancing plant progress and photosynthesis [47]. Total, AuNPs work greatest at decrease concentrations to enhance physiological parameters beneath regular and abiotic stress situations (Fig. 7). Along with a physiological response, only a few research on the toxicity of AuNPs in vegetation had been additionally reported. AuNPs remedy affected the expansion and improvement of assorted vegetation and confirmed contradictory results relying on the mode of NP utility. When onion vegetation had been handled with 15, 30 and 40 nm sized AuNPs in vitro for 4 h on the focus of 0.1–10 mg/L, authors noticed enhance in chromosomal aberrations and reduce in mitotic index [48]. In barley, 10 nm sized 10 mg/L AuNPs handled in hydroponic medium for two weeks decreased biomass and root size [49]. The administration of spherical gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) by means of hydroponic or soil mixing strategies demonstrated poisonous results. Particularly, within the case of tobacco vegetation, the appliance of twenty-two–25 nm AuNPs in rising concentrations resulted in dose-dependent DNA harm. [50]. Equally, spherical-shaped AuNPs sized 3.5 nm exhibited leaf necrosis impact after 14 days of publicity by transporting in size-dependent mechanisms and translocating to cells and tissues leading to phytotoxicity [51]. To conclude, AuNPs exhibited toxicity in vitro, hydroponic and soil remedy regardless of vegetation used and subsequently, seed priming could be tailored for the remedy with AuNPs to enhance plant immunity with out exhibiting poisonous results.

Fig. 7
figure 7

Numerous kinds of coatings on the nanoparticles and their affect within the agriculture discipline: The metallic nanoparticles could be coated with pure natural matter (NOM), amino acids, proteins, antibodies, polymers, surfactants, and negatively or positively charged moieties. Such coatings make the floor of nanoparticles both hydrophilic or hydrophobic and govern their stability in aqueous suspension, dissolution, transport in vegetation, and interactions with plant cells


Zinc (Zn) is an important ingredient for the plant progress and improvement as a result of carbohydrate, protein, and chlorophyll formation considerably lower in vegetation that devoid of Zn. The usage of zinc oxide (ZnO) or ZnSO4.7H2O) as fertilizers are restricted as a result of their low solubility in soil and poor bioavailability of zinc to vegetation. Subsequently, ZnONPs have gotten particular consideration in agriculture discipline. Zinc nanoparticles have proven to own the power to penetrate the seed coat that resulted in elevated aquaporin genes concerned in water uptake, seed vigor, bioavailability, solubility in soil, gradual and gradual launch. The ZnONPs primed seeds had elevated affect on progress and physiology standing in comparison with bulk ZnSO4 remedy, maybe as a result of better capability to be absorbed and assimilated as a result of nano measurement. In a research when Zn is added to the primed resolution, it improved budding and seedling progress of wheat seedlings, most likely as a result of Zn is concerned within the early levels of coleoptile and radicale improvement [52]. The rise of α-amylase in ZnONPs handled seeds can enhance availability of soluble sugars which in flip enhance the germination price, seedling size, seed water uptake for enhancing total metabolic exercise [47]. In comparison with seed priming, foliar spray of ZnONPs used larger quantity of ZnONPs however their use is kind of low in comparison with soil combination technique in wheat vegetation. As an example, soil utility of ZnONPs to wheat tissues used complete quantity of 500 mg for 4 plant replicates [53], whereas ZnONPs utilizing foliar spray to wheat tissues used solely 200 mg for 4 replicates denoting the environment friendly use of ZnONPs for bio-fortification in vegetation. This research additionally confirmed the effectiveness of ZnONPs in enhancing the expansion, chlorophyll contents, Zn contents, and by lowering oxidative stress and cadmium (Cd) contents beneath Cd pressured water-deficient wheat vegetation. We additionally discovered that seed priming of ZnONPs on germination usually relies on the focus of NPs used, and selection of plant species [54]. As an example, beneath 1600 mg/L ZnONPs remedy, germination price of alfalfa was lowered to 40%, and tomato seeds by 20% however elevated cucumber seed germination in comparison with management, indicating that larger focus of ZnONPs have an effect on the standard of germination. Within the egg plant seeds handled with 100 mg/L ZnONPs, the germination price was elevated by way of lowering the seed dormancy [51, 55,56,57] in comparison with foliar spray and soil combination. Equally, there have been concentration-based physiological responses noticed in habanero pepper vegetation when foliar utility was utilized. The foliar spray with completely different concentrations of ZnONPs confirmed completely different functionalities. 1000 mg/L of ZnONPs foliar spray on pepper vegetation induced optimistic impact on plant top, stem diameter, chlorophyll content material, fruit yield and biomass manufacturing; however 2000 mg/L of ZnONPs foliar remedy negatively affected the above parameters. Identical dose resulted in enhance in fruit high quality, capsaicin content material, dihydrocapsaicin, complete phenols and flavonoids in fruits, and enhance antioxidant exercise suggesting that concentration-dependent ZnONPs results in pepper vegetation. Moreover, the seed priming and foliar utility of ZnONPs has additionally proven to exhibit abiotic stress tolerance. The primed wheat seeds used ZnONPs (60 mg/L) to keep up redox homeostasis by decreased ROS era, and elevated antioxidant enzyme actions reminiscent of superoxide dismutase (SOD), peroxidase, thus stopping cells from ROS assault beneath salt stress situations. It’s well-known that low stage of Zn is unable to raise ROS as a result of poor activation of antioxidant equipment beneath stress situations [58, 59]. One other research confirmed the appliance of 90 mg/L ZnONPs previous to warmth stress to alfalfa vegetation triggered localization of ZnONPs in vacuoles and chloroplasts, reversed the irregular modifications to chloroplast, mitochondria and cell wall by stimulating antioxidant enzymes and enhancing osmolyte contents, whereas in soil utility that didn’t occur [60]. When cucumber is handled with 100 mg/L ZnONPs by means of foliar utility, the nanoparticles improved drought-associated detrimental results by regulating morphological, physiological, and biochemical attributes. Comparable research of foliar utility of ZnONPs in enhancing growth-promoting impact have been reported in wheat, cucumber, and eggplants beneath regular and drought situations indicating the function of ZnONPs as a promising fertilizer to enhance progress and stress situations.

So far as toxicity is anxious, the foliar utility of ZnONPs confirmed elevated oxidative stress at 400 mg/L. Whereas, the floor modification of 400 mg/L ZnONPs with silicon (Si) improved the steadiness, hydrophilicity of ZnONPs with improved salt tolerance impact with no phytotoxicity. Thus suggesting using ZnO-SiNPs in comparison with ZnONPs in pea vegetation [61]. The unfavorable impact was additionally noticed when ZnONPs at focus of 500 mg/L was blended in soil. This mixing elevated Zn in roots in comparison with bulk Zn handled pea vegetation resulting in root elongation, translocation of Zn to aerial components, and elevated H2O2 accumulation in leaves with the discount in antioxidant enzymes reminiscent of catalase (CAT), and ascorbate peroxidase (APX). Particularly, after twenty-five days of remedy, there was a major discount in chlorophyll content material, and enhance in lipid peroxidation, indicating the very best toxicity as a result of accumulation in ZnONPs handled pea vegetation that may trigger large unfavorable affect on ecology and meals chain [62]. Subsequently, it’s needed to pick the NP remedy choices fastidiously when contemplating crop well being enchancment utilizing nanomaterials. Equally, in chickpea vegetation devoid of Zn confirmed an elevated in malondialdehyde (MDA) thus leading to decreased biomembrane integrity. Nonetheless, ZnONPs primed seeds reversed Zn content material and decreased MDA by defending membrane integrity [63]. Total, ZnONPs utilized by means of seed priming confirmed a optimistic impact with out exhibiting toxicity to vegetation in comparison with soil combination and foliar spray. Functionalization of ZnONPs could be beneficial to reduce the poisonous results of ZnONPs when the foliar spray is used. In abstract, selecting the optimum focus of NPs associated to the appliance methodology is essential for getting advantages out of NPs.


Copper (Cu) is one other micronutrient for plant progress and improvement that’s concerned in lots of biochemical reactions of plant cells. There are additionally a number of research on the appliance of CuNPs to enhance seed yield and high quality beneath regular and stress situations. The dose of Cu within the nano or microform (nCu, nCuO, nCu (OH)2-a, nCu (OH)2-b, µCu and µCuO) and CuCl2 are essential for displaying helpful or detrimental results within the terrestrial ecosystem. As an example, cilantro vegetation handled with nCuO from germination to harvesting time has extra unfavorable results on germination, chlorophyll content material, and plant biomass in comparison with all different Cu primarily based particles indicating the function of nCuO function in exhibiting unfavorable nutritive results on cilantro vegetation [4]. Equally, research confirmed that seedlings reminiscent of Syrian barley[64], soybeans and chickpeas [65], mung beans and wheat [66], radish [6, 67, 68], lettuce [6, 69] had been affected at 0.5 mM nCuO, 500 mg/L, 335 and 570 mg/L, 10 mg/L, 0.1 mg/L inhibited progress price. Surprisingly, the strategy of CuNPs utility performs very important function in figuring out the nanoparticle toxicity of vegetation. As an example, seed priming with 4.44 mg/L CuNPs positively improved plant biomass in regular and drought situations. Whereas for enhancing the standard of tomato fruits, 250 mg/L CuNPs are beneficial because it enhance bioactive parts reminiscent of vitamin C, lycopene, complete phenols, and flavonoids by elevated accumulation of antioxidant enzymes reminiscent of catalase (CAT) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) [6, 70]. This means that the variations in focus of CuNPs and its affect on vegetation additionally fluctuate relying on the stress situations. Crops reminiscent of lettuce and alfalfa grown in hydroponic tradition with nCu, nCuO, nCu(OH)2-a, nCu(OH)2-b, µCu, and µCuO from 0 to twenty mg/L Cu focus confirmed lowered root size in each the vegetation. Particularly, the translocation of nCu to leaves in lettuce vegetation was noticed solely after remedy with 10 and 20 mg/L concentrations and particularly, in alfalfa vegetation the translocation of nCu was noticed within the dose dependent method. Thus, proving that the alfalfa was extra delicate to nCu in comparison with lettuce vegetation. Total, nCu remedies produces differential responses even between the vegetation of dicots. Equally, lettuce grown utilizing hydroponic tradition with 10 and 20 mg/L Cu@CuO and nCuSO4.5H2O confirmed lowered water content material, root size, dry biomass and modified defense-related metabolites in roots [71]. Nonetheless, foliar spray of 1050 mg/L to 2100 mg/L nCu(OH)2-b for the final 4 weeks earlier than harvest didn’t exhibit unfavorable results as a substitute, it elevated leaf biomass. Nonetheless, there was vital modifications within the metabolite reminiscent of cis-caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, 3,4-dihydroxycinnamic acid, dehydroascorbic acid occurred, demonstrating the prevalence of defensive response towards oxidative stress. Moreover, when cucumber vegetation uncovered to 200–800 mg nCu/Kg in soil elevated Cu accumulation in roots and in a position to translocate considerably to stem, leaves and fruits, inflicting detrimental results. Equally, when Clarika unguiculata (mountain garland) had been uncovered to 10 mg/L nCu(OH)2-b in soil, it fully arrested photosynthesis and induced stunted progress in excessive mild ranges and restricted soil situations [72]. This indicated that seed priming and foliar spray of CuNPs are comparatively higher than hydroponic tradition and soil remedy for enhancing the standard of dicot vegetation (Fig. 8). There are additionally research reported on CuNPs towards biotic stress tolerance.

Fig. 8
figure 8

Constructive and harmful results of various strategies of NPs utility in vegetation relying on this assessment. This determine was created utilizing biorender software program

Micronutrients utilized within the type of nanoparticles confirmed efficacy in rising vegetable and crops yield and reducing fusarium ailments. A foliar utility of 500 μg/mL CuONPs to chrysanthemum plant with or with out Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. chrysanthemi lowered illness severity with a rise in dry biomass, plant top, horticulture high quality [73]. Thus, indicating that CuONPs in a position to enhance total efficiency of chrystanemum vegetation beneath stress or non-stress situation. Moreover, priming of maize seeds with CuNPs exhibited drought tolerance by sustaining leaf water standing, chlorophyll, and carotenoids with decreased ROS and elevated antioxidant enzymes reminiscent of SOD, ascorbate peroxidase (APX), and anthocyanin contents [74].

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